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Cold Cave, "Cremations"

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Cold Cave's brilliant yet cruelly brief set at No Fun Fest most closely resembled a low-fi New Order perverted by (un)healthy doses of bleak intensity and menace. Regrettably, this compilation of early releases does not sound anything like that, so I must content myself with mere memories until a release emerges that more accurately captures Wes Eisold's current vision. Thankfully, however, Cremations is still a fairly compelling and unusual release in its own right.

 

Hospital Productions

Cold Cave originated as something of an electronic solo project for prolific underground icon Wes Eisold, but it eventually expanded into a full band.  Eisold is best known as the former frontman of hardcore legends American Nightmare and Give Up The Ghost, but has also been a member of XO Skeletons and Some Girls.  Recently, he has expanded into publishing too with the launching of Heartworm Press (which boasts forthcoming books by both Boyd Rice and Genesis P. Orridge).  While his creative output has varied in superficial ways, it has always been rooted to a firm foundation of restless intensity and intelligence, both of which are on ample display throughout Cremations.  

This album, released by Prurient's Dominick Fernow, compiles the Painted Nails EP, the Electronic Dreams cassette, and the self-released Coma Potion LP.  Despite that, however, Cremations nonetheless manages to sound like a coherent and deliberately sequenced album.  The individual tracks, however, are mostly brief sound experiments rather than fully realized works.  On one level, that is a bit disappointing, as I know that Cold Cave has some amazing songs and I wish they were here.  On a different level, however, Cremations works as a kind of imaginary soundtrack: this is exactly the sort of stuff that I envision playing in an underground club in some sort of sleazy, squalor-filled sci-fi dystopia like those portrayed in Total Recall or William Gibson’s Neuromancer.

Despite the embryonic nature of this material, Eisold's aesthetic remains quite focused and there are occasional glimpses of the great band that Cold Cave is rapidly evolving into.  Two tracks in particular stand out as especially excellent: "Heavenly Metals" is a perversely beautiful and catchy piece built around some Max Morton spoken word about doomed robot love in a horrific post-apocalyptic wasteland, while "E Dreams" is a hauntingly melancholic ambient piece that shimmers around a distorted and echoing female voice.  However, there are number of other noteworthy tracks scattered throughout as well, such as "Sex Ads," which is one of a handful of songs that approximate a mangled, thuggish, and noise-damaged reenvisioning of Soft Cell.

Cremations is probably not the best place to start with Cold Cave, but it does feature some strong (albeit often abrasive) material nonetheless.  I expect that whatever comes next from them will be amazing, but there are some great tracks already available on various releases (such as "Love Comes Close" and surprisingly poppy "The Trees Grew Emotions and Died") that are worth seeking out in the meantime.  Oddly, Eisold also has a similarly excellent solo project (Ye Olde Maids) that is very much in the same vein (albeit less dark), so hopefully that will result in twice as much great electropop in my future.  Keep an eye on this guy.   

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Last Updated on Sunday, 18 October 2009 11:45  


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